Flooding in Bangkok shut down global supply chains, torrential storms in Beijing and the Philippines took lives, and, most recently, the rare landfall of a hurricane in the US northeast caused immense and multifarious damage and suffering.

Natural disasters have always occurred, but in the 21st century to date, humanity is witnessing unprecedented climatic variations while hundreds of millions of people migrate to increasingly vulnerable coastal urban areas.

Construction of flood prevention walls along the rivers are aimed at replacing sandbag embankment used during the flood crisis last year.
Construction of flood prevention walls along the rivers are aimed at replacing sandbag embankment used during the flood crisis last year.

It’s clear – global challenges can be tackled, and the private and public sector are beginning to acknowledge the urgency in implementing solutions. The greatest hill to climb now is enabling the environment for investment in building resilient communities that will be ready to adapt to a changing world.

The World Bank reports that US$ 75 billion-US$ 100 billion annually will be needed for the next 40 years

or more for developing countries to adapt to these challenges and prevent loss of life and jobs. The difference remaining after current allocation (about US$ 3.5 billion-US$ 9 billion, according to the OECD) is US$ 71.5 billion-US$ 91 billion.

The World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Climate Change is addressing these and other climate issues during the next two years and will bring the message of the urgent need to adapt to its wide network of business and government leaders. When the Council met in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 12-14, for the Summit on the Global Agenda 2012, it developed work plans for its three focus areas: adaptation metrics, climate smart investments, and communications and engagement.

The Council will assess and endorse the best approaches in measuring resilience as well as make an inventory of “best-case” climate adaptation projects, policies and mechanisms that facilitate private investment in resilience. The outreach area will work with other Forum Councils to disseminate the findings from the metrics and investment assessments that can be helpful to organizations, governments and the media in promoting urgently needed action.

Leaders have the ability to help people adapt to climate change and to create the right incentives for funding.

Global reinsurance firm Swiss Re is helping farmers in Ethiopia to tackle unpredictable rainfall and drought. Ushahidi, a small non-profit software company, uses the power of open-source “crowdsourcing” software to distribute real-time information during disasters, which helped to save countless lives during the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Engineering firms, such as AECOM and CH2M Hill, are integrating adaptation into water systems and have built infrastructure plans to protect future generations living in urban areas.

In a series of blog posts curated by the World Economic Forum’s Climate Change Initiatives, a number of leading voices will present their perspectives on climate change. Contributions are linked to the Forum’s Green Growth Action Alliance project and the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Climate Change. In the following post, Juan José Daboub, founding CEO of the Global Adaptation Institute (GAIN), former World Bank Managing Director and former El Salvador Finance Minister, looks at global preparedness for climate change.

via Can we adapt to climate change? | Forum:Blog | The World Economic Forum.

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